MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING
MASSILLON CITY COUNCIL
HELD, MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2015
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – This Special Meeting will come to order. This Special Meeting was called by The Committee of the Whole for the purpose to pass Resolution No. 1 – 2015. Madam Clerk, roll call please.
1. ROLL CALL
Roll call for the evening found the following Council Members present: Milan Chovan, Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly, Michelle Del Rio-Keller, Nancy Halter, Ed Lewis, Paul Manson, Andrea Scassa, Megan Starrett and Shaddrick Stinson.
Roll call of 9 present.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Thank you, Madam Clerk. Councilman Manson.
COUNCILMAN MANSON – Yes, thank you, Committee of the Whole. I just kind of got myself back into this today here. I have to tell you when I was walking the beach and thinking about it, I did remember that we did pass a resolution because some of you questioned it was the street lighting was in the Plan last time and I forget whatever, there was something else and you wanted to know if we were approving that at that point. No, we we’re approving that stuff at that point. So we did just approve the Plan. Then any individual things, then we have to act on as a separate ordinance. I think that’s the way I remember from a year ago. Because I do remember some people being very hesitant about voting on the Plan because they thought it automatically enacted all those things. And what I believe we’re doing here, and Tony you’re sitting on that Commission; we’re just voting on the Plan right now. Anything in there like what we put in or what the Mayor had in there before, it would be on a ballot we would have to have an ordinance approving our action. So, having said that, I think the initial letter that Perry sent out, I think pretty much established our position, right? I’m sure everybody read it, it was simple.
COUNCILMAN CHOVAN – Except for not putting the percentages or, you know, dedicating the one-tenth to anything particular.
COUNCILMAN MANSON – Right. It says the remaining one-tenth will be payable to the General Fund, but it said one-tenth would be shared with the street maintenance and vehicle replacement and it would be. Just let me read it, some of you said you didn’t see it, I thought everybody would have seen this, this was on the e-mail and stuff. “Place on the ballot for the November 2015 election the question of whether to raise the income tax by two-tenths of one percent for a 5 year period commencing in January 2016. One tenth of the increase shall be specifically dedicated for the purpose of street maintenance, repair and replacement and the remaining one-tenth shall by payable to the General Fund. Provided that the tax increase passed at the General Election, Ord. No.???”, these are passed ordinances, “assessing a street lighting fee and Ord. No.??? establishing an income tax credit reduction shall be automatically repealed effective December 31, 2015, otherwise said ordinances shall remain in full force and effect”. I think that, if we agree, that’s what our decision was when we proposed our Plan. Now, we have, what we did with this thing a year ago is we took the parts that we agreed with the Mayor on and we left all those this Plan. We need to replace the ones that would be changed by what our proposal is. So I imagine we need to at least go through these and make sure of what we want in this unless we intend to change what our proposal is then. Myself, I’m still satisfied with the consensus what we took at the last meeting, but we can talk about that, I guess.
COUNCILWOMAN DEL RIO-KELLER – The only…
COUNCILMAN MANSON – Tony’s running the meeting.
COUNCILWOMAN DEL RIO-KELLER – Oh, I’m sorry.
COUNCILMAN MANSON – Unless he’s going to defer.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilwoman Del Rio-Keller.
COUNCILWOMAN DEL RIO-KELLER – Thank you. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that, Mr. President. The last time we did this, we did not have proper language in there in reference to the Park & Rec tax, the three-tenths of a percent. You know, we had a little discussion at the last meeting and talked about do we want to put that language in this time, you know, how do we want to do this moving forward? Because if the income tax passes, the tax credit goes away, that’s money from Parks & Rec that they will be no longer be taking to the tune of like $100,000, I think it was.
COUNCILMAN CHOVAN – You mean money that will go back into Parks & Rec that they’re losing because of the tax credit?
COUNCILWOMAN DEL RIO-KELLER – Right. They’re getting more money now because of the tax credit versus income tax.
COUNCILMAN CHOVAN – Right.
COUNCILWOMAN DEL RIO-KELLER – I don’t know what that language, I’m just throwing it out there. If we’re going to change it, this would be the time, before we pass it.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilwoman Halter.
COUNCILWOMAN HALTER – Would they not get the three-tenths of the percent of the raise?
COUNCILWOMAN DEL RIO-KELLER – If I could, could I call up Mr. Koher?
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Sure, Mr. Koher.
KEN KOHER – Good evening.
COUNCILWOMAN DEL RIO-KELLER – Thanks, Ken. Could you kind of shed some light on this because I know you and I discussed this the last go around, that we left out language that would benefit Parks & Rec?
KEN KOHER – Okay. The way the current tax credit reduction is now, one out of every $6.00 that is coming in extra because of that reduction, goes to Parks & Rec. Now, if we put on an additional .2% income tax, we will be receiving tax monies from folks because of not having a tax credit go up with that .2% increase, we will be receiving tax monies from folks who otherwise would not pay any of the 1.8%. The problem is dividing what part of the tax we are receiving is from that .2% and would the Parks get one out of every $6.00 brought in that no tax credit on that .2% increase. We have time to figure that out yet before we have to get something on the ballot?
COUNCILMAN MANSON – I think we have time for all of that as long as we generally agree on our…
KEN KOHER – We do. But, I think where we will ultimately come out is that some of that will not be discernable and they’ll be some benefit there. But the bulk of the money can be earmarked towards, at least one out of every $6.00 raised by that.
COUNCILWOMAN DEL RIO-KELLER – Okay, thank you.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Is there anyone else? Mr. Manson. Councilman Lewis.
COUNCILMAN LEWIS – Well, I just have a couple of remarks, not necessarily for Mr. Koher. If anyone else has comments for Mr. Koher?
KEN KOHER – Thank you very much.
COUNCILMAN LEWIS – Ever since the Commission’s meeting that they had last week, I have been hearing the buzz that maybe members of the Commission, even though they can’t state their opinion, that the general feeling in the room may have been that this was not well received by the Commission anyway. I know it was turned away for a technicality. There’s a high likelihood that it may not pass through them. Obviously the comments in the paper that we’ve all seen, most likely would also lend to that feeling in general. At this point, I’m trying to review and I pulled out the budget that we just passed and started reviewing it over the past week and tried to see different ways that we could do things to prepare a Plan that would be more representative of maybe what they’re looking for. But the bottom line as we all know, we don’t have a lot of options here, I mean, either you increase revenue or you decrease cost. It’s the most basic aspect of the budgetary process. If we go with increase revenue, we only really have two options. We either put a ballot initiative before the people and in my opinion, an income tax and a property tax in this City right now, people aren’t yelling or say “no” to an income tax, they we saying “no” to a tax, period. I don’t think it matters if we put a property tax out the past two times. It would have had the same result. So, the argument that an income tax is going to fail because it’s an income tax, but a property tax will pass because it’s a property tax, to me, is a bogus argument. It’s the tax that they don’t want. I’d also say that while I have not been fully supporting the tax discussions because, in general, I’m hesitant to do so especially with two attempts as well. I will say that I’m proud that this Council at least put together a proposal that would incentivize someone to vote for it compared to the property tax which just hits the property owners a second time after they’ve already been hit once. Now if we don’t go with a tax on the ballot, the only other option you would have for revenue increase would be to increase fees and to impose more fees on the people without their consent which to me is even more grievance because then you’re just holding the people hostage to your legislative authority or your administrative authority, so I don’t necessarily agree with that. The last thing would be to make cuts and I wanted to kind of talk about that for a second because I reviewed this budget and I know it’s hard to believe, but really, there’s not a whole lot of room there. When Mr. Koher says he’s trying to cut it down slim, until you start letting go of people, there’s not a whole lot of room. I think most of us are in agreement that we don’t want to touch the Fire Dept., we don’t want to touch the Police Dept. because the people’s safety is important. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you don’t want to touch the Road Dept. because those men and women are working hard every day to keep up with the task that they already have and if you’re hurt then we’ll take another chunk out of them and then we’ll make it even that much more difficult. So, when I’m reviewing this, I looked at a couple of things and I thought, what if we took 6% out of the salary line item in the budget for the remaining accounts, just 6%. If you take out 6%, you’re only going to get $92,000 a year, that’s all you would save and if you…I went further and I thought, well, if you take 6% out of the salary items of our employees, then I think our department heads and elected officials would have to take a cut as well. So, on top of that, you cut every elected official’s pay, which we couldn’t do this year, you’d have to wait until next year because you can’t affect the current term, you’re only going to gain another $44,000 a year by cutting every elected official by 10% for a combined $134,000 a year starting in 2016. That might be a direction Council wants to go and we might want to review that more. But I just wanted to let you know that there isn’t apparent, until you start actually cutting jobs and laying people off; until you do that, there’s no $500,000 cut just sitting there waiting for us to come through, that I can see. I will continue to review this budget and dig deeper and I welcome you all to do the same. I just don’t see it initially. Now we do have in this Plan that we wanted to review all of the different departments. The one difficulty I had in reviewing this budget is we are a legislative branch. We’re not an administrative branch, so for me to look at a specific department and say well, they don’t need 8 employees. How can I say that honestly to the people of Massillon when I haven’t overseen that department? That would be something that we would have to do with cooperation of the administration and evaluate what they’re seeing and how they think they can make moves and share responsibility. The only other way we can make drastic reductions and this may be the $500,000 reduction people would want us to see would be to literally cut out whole departments. The only departments that we could possibly maybe cut out and that would only be because they would be picked up by other agencies within the County would be your Building and Health Departments. And right now, I don’t think that that’s necessarily the route we want to go as well. We have a Building Dept. that, I think, is somewhere around $265,000 a year, $300,000 a year to the General Fund, but I would have to ask Mr. Koher to give me an exact number on how much revenue they generate. So, we’re not going to be saving money there, not great amounts because, you know, they would lose the revenue generation plus you’re going to have to pay the County to provide the service to the City of Massillon. By the time you calculate those two numbers, I’m sure the savings becomes small. The other department, the Health Dept., is $365,000, $375,000, again, same thing. By the time you would make that reduction and then have to pay the Health Commission of the County and have to lose any revenue that they bring in, again, the savings isn’t quite as great as it initially looks. And I just wanted to throw that out there and put it on the record for this meeting because I want the Fiscal Recovery Commission, when they’re reviewing our Plan, to realize that we have looked. We’re not just sitting here and saying, here, we’re just going to keep throwing this out until you like it. We have looked. And there is a little bit…and you know, I’d be happy to work with Mr. Koher and the Mayor and let’s do some tweaking and see what we can find. But bottom line is, we cannot fund a street resurfacing program and a vehicle replacement program off of these small reductions. We need greater reductions than that and it’s a matter of whether or not it’s there. So, sorry to take up time, I just wanted to let you guys know that I did some work and research and that’s what I’ve come up with so far.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilwoman Del Rio-Keller.
COUNCILWOMAN DEL RIO-KELLER – Thank you, Mr. President. Based on everything you’re saying, Ed, you know, I’m only on my what, year and four months being on Council? We have made cuts, I mean, I know cuts took place prior to me coming on Council. We laid off people in the Police Dept.; we laid off people in the Fire Dept. I think as we move forward, the City department heads continue to look at ways to run as efficiently as they possible can. With that being said, can we at least look at the process of what would a budget look like if we had 10% cuts; if we had 15% cuts? Is it even feasibly possible? What would it even look like? Instead of just talking about it, at least starting the process and reviewing it and looking at it in the next couple of weeks only from a stand point that if the Commission votes on this Plan on April 7th and they don’t like it and it comes back, we only have 30 days; that’s all we have to regroup again and figure out something. That’s all I have.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilman Lewis.
COUNCILMAN LEWIS – I guess I would say that I agree with Councilwoman Del Rio-Keller and I would look forward to trying to sit down with Mr. Koher and maybe even Mrs. Ferrero and possibly the Finance Committee will join me in that effort. We do get more aggressive. Bottom line is the voters have voted “no” twice. That is a clear call that they want to see other action taken. I guess what I should have predicated my previous statement with saying that given our deadline of March 31st, there was not enough time to be able to really work out that kind of a Plan and put it forward in a professional manner. If they deny this Plan as I suspect they may, 30 days will have to suffice; it will have to. And if we don’t see it, then Council may find ourselves in a position where we say, you know what, in order to save against 15% cuts, we’re going to impose 10% cuts and just do it. We may not have much of an option. I just want to make sure that we’re talking about the reality of where this goes. You know, 10% is better than 15% kind of mentality and that would obviously save us and it would be 10% across the board. Not just of the salary line item which would create a greater amount of savings or we may have to start seriously talking about some of those other more drastic moves that I’m not necessarily leaning towards.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilman Stinson and then Councilwoman Scassa.
COUNCILMAN STINSON – Yeah, I need clarification. When we say 15% cut, is that across the board, I mean, every department gets hit or can we be selective in who we hit? See, that’s a question that’s been popped around, I know, at the Neighborhood Association several times and stuff like. So, I’m trying to figure out, which one is it?
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilwoman Scassa.
COUNCILWOMAN SCASSA – You want me to answer this question?
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – No, he’s done, now it’s your turn.
COUNCILWOMAN SCASSA – Oh, okay. Well, I guess to somewhat answer your question before I make my comment, are you talking about 15% cuts from State?
COUNCILMAN STINSON – The 15% cuts from the State. Is it across the board or is it selective?
COUNCILWOMAN SCASSA – I would imagine it would be across the board with the exception of the Court. But I don’t think…
COUNCILWOMAN HALTER – What about wastewater?
COUNCILMAN STINSON – Well, then that would still effect the Police and Fire Depts., right? And we don’t want that.
COUNCILMAN CHOVAN – Right, and we know that’s not economically feasible.
COUNCILMAN STINSON – Right.
COUNCILMAN CHOVAN – That’s why we have the overtime we have now.
COUNCILMAN STINSON – See, that’s my point.
COUNCILMAN CHOVAN – So, Ed’s point is we do it selectively…
COUNCILMAN STINSON – Ed’s plan sounds more feasible, yes. That’s all.
COUNCILWOMAN SCASSA – Okay, now I can make my comment? Okay, thank you. You know after we discussed what we were going to do with the income tax, I anticipated in the repealing of the street lighting and then restoring the credit to 1.8, you know, we left here that night, I’m thinking to myself, you know, there’s no way the Commission is going to go for that because that’s legislation that’s generating revenue that we’ve passed, we’ve got through the hurt of passing it; we’re seeing that money coming in so that’s what I was thinking and sort of anticipating. When I read the article, like you said, Ed, it tossed back to us on a technicality, however, the comments that were made, I’m getting that same feeling that they’re not liking, necessarily, what we’re proposing. However, I also agree that whether it’s an income tax or property, I think either way, people aren’t going to be super in favor of it. The reason why I am in favor of repealing those two measures in restoring the income credit is, like I said, I think we have to give them something back and that’s just my way of explaining that. I mean, when we were out campaigning last year for the raise in the income tax, that’s what we heard. People are mad about the street lighting, you know, they’re mad, the people who work out town about the credit reduction. So, I mean, I know, and I was explaining that to someone today. It may seem counter-intuitive to repeal these measures that are already generating revenue in hopes of passing something, I know it’s all dependent upon passage of that levy, but I think we just have to show the people that we’re trying and that’s why we’re repealing those other two measures and then with the designation to the streets. I agree, I mean, I don’t know how much is left to cut without starting to sacrifice the services. I know I have one resident who has been beating the drum of getting rid of the Health Dept. to me for a while now. And I agree that I don’t know if the cost savings is there. I think the City of Canton did a study to see if it was worth it for them to merge with the County and I believe, although I didn’t read the specifics of the study, but, from what the Repository reported on, it wasn’t feasible for the City of Canton to get rid of their Health Dept., but like I said, I know a particular citizen in my Ward who has been beating that drum for a while. So, yeah, maybe those are two things we need to look at with those departments and to see what the savings would actually be, if any. But, I don’t think the cuts are there that are going to generate the revenue that we need. I think cutting 10% in the departments other than safety forces and just like Nancy said, wastewater treatment or the General Fund, I think we’ll show the public that we mean business, you know, if we start cutting to the point where more services are being affected that the citizens feel it; that might get through to them, but, I don’t see the huge amount being there for us to cut to be able to do some of the things that need to be done with some of the roads and vehicle replacement if we can’t pass the income tax, but I mean, I don’t know, I’m eager to see, I guess, what the Commission, how they vote on it.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilman Chovan.
COUNCILMAN CHOVAN – Thank you. You know the one thing that I read in here and that we’ve talked about before is a lot of different savings or a lot of efficiency can be gained depending on what happens with the collective bargaining agreements. That’s the unknown, we don’t know what’s going to happen there. I mean, so, maybe we can get some kind of concession, it would give people a little bit more control from the supervisory standpoint that could save a little money there. But on the other hand, who knows, I mean, maybe somebody’s going to want raises to do certain things and if they do that, then your costs are going to go up. So, we talk about public safety and about streets and infrastructure maintenance, but we really don’t know what’s going to happen with those until after the contracts are done and I’m guessing, that’s just starting now. I don’t even think, they might have had introductory meetings or something, I don’t even know. I just wanted to throw that out there.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Is there anyone else? Councilman Lewis.
COUNCILMAN LEWIS – One last quick point I wanted to show. I just added up quickly what the miscellaneous accounts in the General Fund, the Police Dept., the Fire Dept. and the Courts, essentially, the Clerk of Courts, Muni Court and all that. Out of our $19 million budge, if the math is right, it’s a shy $15 million dollars, just so you know. So when we come in there saying we can’t touch police, we can’t touch fire, we can’t touch the court, oh and we’re not going to touch the street either, you take a $19 million dollar budget and reduce it to $4 million dollars trying to find $400,000 to $500,000 is savings. And the police and fire are, you know, they’re significant amounts as well, but, the courts $1.2 million, $500,000, $763,000, I mean, we’re already at $2 million in courts alone, so, and then police and fire are your biggest at about $10 million, about half of our budget, just so you know. I just wanted to put that out there. That’s why it’s hard to find the savings because there are certain facets that we can’t touch or don’t want to touch for the safety of our citizens that are eating up a large portion.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilwoman Del Rio-Keller.
COUNCILWOMAN DEL RIO-KELLER – Thank you. I agree with you, Ed. I think the last time around, you know, that’s why fire and police were touched because that was the biggest piece of the puzzle, if you will. Are we going to be able to find $300,000 or $400,000 in cuts? I don’t think so. That was never my intent, but if 6% equates to about $92,000, then, $12% could equate to $200,000. $200,000 is at least something to go to table and say, we’ve come up with additional cuts, we haven’t made cuts since the last time in 2013, were the layoffs? It’s something to go to the voters, you know, all the voters continue to say is why am I paying for this? Why aren’t other people paying for it out of their pocket? Nobody likes it, I mean, I myself am a witness of cuts, but, you know, I think I like the standpoint of at least us investigating it versus 15% across the board which is going to take the biggest chunk out of police and fire. And we’re still paying for police to this day on overtime. We haven’t even regrouped to what that was prior to the layoffs. And I’m afraid if again if we don’t at least make the initial, go down the path with it, you know, maybe the Commission accepts the Plan on the 7th and I don’t think this counts, but I think we still need to go down that road and start planning and not waiting until October or November until the budget comes out.
COUNCILMAN LEWIS – I fully agree.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilwoman Cunningham-Hedderly.
COUNCILWOMAN CUNNINGHAM-HEDDERLY – I just wanted to make a comment on possibly closing the Health Dept. which I’m not in favor of because I think it’s going to have our citizens, it’s going to give them a hardship and it a percentage of the citizens that are hurting really bad as it is. So, I’m not in favor of that. Just wanted to make that comment.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilman Lewis.
COUNCILMAN LEWIS – Just want to clarify for everyone in the audience. No one is talking about actually closing the Health Dept. No one is talking about closing the Building Dept. It was simply stated that those are departments that eat up large parts of the budget and other people in the community have asked us what the savings would be. But it has not been seriously considered by Council and will not unless it absolutely has to be. That’s all.
COUNCILWOMAN SCASSA – I echo that.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilwoman Halter.
COUNCILWOMAN HALTER – I have a question, I think, for Mr. Koher.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Mr. Koher, will you come up please?
KEN KOHER – I will.
COUNCILWOMAN HALTER – I’m just curious and I thought about this before and I don’t know, it might be on the budget. What does it cost us to use the bank building?
KEN KOHER – To do the what?
COUNCILWOMAN HALTER – The bank building. What does it cost us? Do we own that, do we pay rent?
KEN KOHER – It was dated to us and we lease it back to the bank for $1.00 a year plus we provide maintenance for the building.
COUNCILWOMAN HALTER – Do we pay the utilities?
KEN KOHER – Yes.
COUNCILWOMAN HALTER – So, we don’t know what that cost is then? My thought is, I’ve had people mention to me and it’s been a stickler with me for a long time, is the fact that this is City Hall and yet our city departments are scattered all over Massillon. So, and I don’t know if we’d save anything to bring them all back into the building or not. Just was a thought.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Is that it for Mr. Koher? Thank you. Councilwoman Starrett.
COUNCILWOMAN STARRETT – I think if we’re going to be talking serious cuts by departments within the next 30 days or so, if that’s the route we’re going to go, I think we need to start inviting department heads in here on Work Session nights and have them sit down in front of us and tell us how many employees do you have, what does each employee do? You know, we need to know more about these departments in general, just hands on. We don’t sit down and actually talk each department head very often when we’re determining when we approve the budget or not. How many employees are in each department? Nobody really knows off the top of their heads. What are their essential functions, what are you doing? Just so we get a little more familiar with each department and each background of each department before was actually do start making cuts. So that would help us familiarize ourselves with where we feel the cuts could be made that’s not going to hurt the City as badly as police or fire, we know we can’t cut.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Thank you. Is there anyone else? Councilman Manson.
COUNCILMAN MANSON – Yes. I’ve heard a lot of things said here, but a lot of them have to do with longer term planning and discussion and stuff like that. What we’re faced with is making a decision on what our proposal is of what we’re going to make that has to be…they may turn it down because they don’t like it, but it has to meet the standard of generating enough revenue if it does pass, okay. And, I guess some of what we’re talking about here and this is not to go out after anybody or anything, but we had a limited amount of time. We didn’t have enough time to even fully discuss the Mayor’s proposal, I don’t feel. We need to probably get into that more. But, having said that, I’ve been going through all these things you’re talking about on finance. I was the Finance Chairman for four years, I’ve looked at the budge every way imaginable and for quite a period of time, I’ve been at the point where I feel the only solution is revenue and the only serious money that would cover what we feel we would need is one of these two proposals. You know, either the Mayor’s proposal or our proposal. I think one of them has to be moved forward. I still think that the proposal we made with some of the changes we were looking at, we’re not talking about taking away revenue; we’re only talking about some things changing if the thing would pass. But we wouldn’t be denying any revenue, that still would pass the revenue test as far as what it generated. I thing we need to put our proposal together just like Perry wrote it up for us and resubmit it. Or submit it, I guess we didn’t actually formally submit it. Submit it; approve it and submit it and then let them talk about it. You know, there’s things I don’t like about either one of them. Nobody likes to raise taxes, but I can also tell you that I was a chairman along with Bob Gessner’s wife on a school levy that it took us three years, so I don’t want to hear this stuff about time. Part of it is the message and part of it is what we are going to do with the money and right now we’re in a box where, for me, I’m looking at the income tax yet, just as we proposed this thing several weeks ago; two or three weeks ago, I don’t know the exact date, but I think that’s the way we start back. The Mayor’s proposal, we won’t see any revenue until 2017, I believe, or at least late 2016, I don’t know. Mr. Koher, how long does it take for a tax change? Can I ask you to come back up? Could you ask him to come back up, please?
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Mr. Koher, can you come up?
COUNCILMAN MANSON – If you went the property tax route and it wouldn’t be passed until say, February of next year, when would the property tax kick in, how soon?
KEN KOHER – The bills that would be sent January 1, 2017.
COUNCILMAN MANSON – 2017. So, you know, we’re looking at more than a year and a half out before any additional revenues. So, I think that we need to put this thing out there. There’s nothing wrong with letting the people vote on it. I mean, little by little as they see the streets and as they hear the information, sure, everybody says we need a $25,000 campaign, well, maybe, maybe not, whatever, but part of it is getting the information out. I felt like when we did the school levy for three times that we were putting the information out the first day we started trying to put out there, but sometimes, people don’t hear it for a long time and then, we have done a couple of things that we tried to take care of some certain groups to help maybe get this thing passed and myself, I’m just prepared to send it back to the Commission as is and then I would like to go to the Commission the next time they’re going to act on this and present it. That’s what I was disappointed about not being here this time that I could go and present that. Otherwise you have to come up with a new plan. We’re already five minutes over, no, we’re not over, but we have to come up with a new plan by next meeting. They’re talking about technicality here, we didn’t…
COUNCIL CLERK ROLLAND – You didn’t vote.
COUNCILMAN MANSON – So, we do what, we correct what we need to correct and put it back to them and then try to explain it. I don’t know what else we do right at this point.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilman Lewis.
COUNCILMAN LEWIS – Yes, before we go to a vote and I’m not saying we necessarily want to do a new Plan tonight, I was just wanting to make sure we go information out there, but before we go to a vote, I know we, essentially, have before us; do we want to go with the property tax or the income tax? Council is thinking the income tax but the Mayor put property tax before us, I was thinking maybe it would be prudent to request that the Mayor explain her reasoning behind a property tax instead of an income tax since we do have her in attendance this evening before we take a vote. If the Mayor would so oblige.
KEN KOHER – May I say one more thing? There was a lot of discussion here so far about making further cuts, retracting our City government. We are in an up swinging economy right now and if we are making retractions to the City of Massillon in an up swinging economy, what are we going to do in a down swing economy? I think it’s more of a revenue issue than more cuts because we have made a lot of cuts.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilman Manson.
COUNCILMAN MANSON – Yeah, and that’s, Mr. Koher, where I agree with you on that. And I said it has to be one or the other at this point. I don’t see anything else that will generate the $700,000 or $800,000 more that we need that we’d like to have a year, I just don’t see it. And I don’t think we can cut any deeper, we have been cutting for a long time and to the point that everything with the police and fire is not back to where it was. We still have a couple of hundred thousand dollars in the Safer Grant that’s being paid this year because of veterans. We still do not have the police force back to the level it was, I believe, three years ago. I’d have to depend you, Mr. Chovan, for that, but I don’t know the exact numbers, but they’re not back yet. And we haven’t been patching streets, we haven’t bought a whole lot of equipment. The only equipment I remember, what did we buy, two fire or two police cars? We bought some used equipment in 2012 or 2013 from Jackson Twp., but we need revenue and at this point, I believe, the City income tax…with a lot of the stuff that’s come up with the street lighting, with the tax credit and also realizing that 73% of the people paying taxes in the City are living outside of the City. I think that’s something we didn’t realize at all before and I’m still wanting to vote for this as per the letter that Mr. Stergios drafted.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Would you like to come up, Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry?
MAYOR CATAZARO-PERRY – Sure. Good evening. Mr. Lewis.
COUNCILMAN LEWIS – Yes, I just wanted to make sure that you had an opportunity to support your initial offering to the City Council before we took a vote this evening.
MAYOR CATAZARO-PERRY – Well, a lot of thought went into the Plan for the second time, of course, the Vehicle Replacement Plan is a 20 year plan. That was missing in the City government for a long time and so now we’ve rotated those and our grandchildren and our children shouldn’t have to worry about that when it’s their turn to take these roles on. Secondly, we worked with the State Commissioner, excuse me, the State Auditor’s liaison, Laura Brown and Steve Maumee, I think that’s how you pronounce his name, and they really were pushing us towards this direction and when we went back and looked at the income tax, it failed the first time by 68%, second time by 61%; it’s hard to make up points that’s going to pass that. And so they really kind of directed Ken and I to the property tax and it really truly is affordable and it allows our residents to take ownership for our City. So, a $100,000 home will be $52.50 a year, which is about $5.00 a month; it’s really affordable and it’s something that, you know, the money would go directly to streets and directly to vehicles and after five years if the residents did not like what they saw, they can take it away. And it’s tangible; it’s something you can actually see. When you do an income tax and you throw it in the General Fund, it’s hard to see that. Now I know you wanted to allocate those as well, but, due to the Park & Rec system, we have a lot of our residents that are not trustworthy in that and so, this way you can actually see something concrete and if not, then if they don’t like what they see, they can take it away. Anything else?
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Thank you.
MAYOR CATAZARO-PERRY – You’re welcome.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Councilman Manson.
COUNCILMAN MANSON – Well, I didn’t hear anything there that changed my mind. I still think that our original proposal as Mr. Stergios wrote it up should be our proposal and unless there’s more discussion, I make a motion; we’re going to have to waive the rule requiring three separate readings, but I’d like to make a motion, unless somebody else has more discussion here.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Is there anyone else?
COUNCILMAN MANSON – I make a motion that we waive the rules requiring three separate readings and bring the Financial Recovery Plan forward for passage and, I’m sorry, what ordinance number?
COUNCILMAN CHOVAN – It’s a resolution. Resolution No. 1.
COUNCILMAN MANSON – Resolution No. 1.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – I need a second. Seconded by Councilwoman Starrett. Roll call for suspension.
9 yes for suspension
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – And for passage.
9 yes for passage
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TOWNSEND – Thank you, Madam Clerk. Resolution No. 1 - 2015 has passed. This meeting is adjourned.
DIANE ROLLAND, CLERK OF COUNCIL
TONY M. TOWNSEND, PRESIDENT